I just walked out of the Calgary IMAX theater after watching a test screening of footage for Jon Long’s first IMAX film, EXTREME, and let me say this: “Oh my GOD!” It was unbelievable. Although the name of the film might make those of us in the “cool guy” circle of action sports a little wary due to its obvious overuse, I have to admit that after watching this footage, I couldn’t think of any other possible title for what may prove to be the most epic action-sports film of all time.
It’s not like Jon woke up one morning and decided to go out and make an IMAX film. With over ten years of experience filming action sports under his belt, Long is no stranger to filming incredible action in the nature forum. “The first time I ever saw an IMAX film, I knew these sports would be perfect for this medium.” I have to agree with this sentiment. Watching life-size 40-foot waves being surfed and seeing the largest mountains in the world being ridden by the best of the best was something most of the planet’s population will never get to enjoy without actually putting themselves in harm’s way-until now.
Long considers it important that the sports and their athletes were represented in a realistic light. “I didn’t want to fake anything with this film,” he says. “We didn’t compromise any of the sports just to get a cheap thrill for the audience. That’s not what the film is about.”
The film itself is more than just the action overload that we’re used to in the snowboarding world; it sends a powerful message of what the athletes are achieving in each of their sports. “All the athletes in the film share a common spirit, so I felt there was no better way to narrate the film than to have the athletes do it themselves,” continues Long. “I felt no narrator or actor’s voice could talk about what these incredible athletes are achieving in the film and sound credible.”
Although there are many sports today that are considered “extreme,” Long feels that these sports are the best representatives of his theory of what extreme really means: “I don’t want to define the word extreme for anybody, but I feel that the roots of extreme sports come from nature-based sports, when humans put themselves within the path of that kind of power. What could be more extreme than that?”
IMAX EXTREME features Victoria Jealouse, Craig Kelly, Terje Haakonsen, and Brandon Ruff in the snowboarding segment of the film, which also includes tow-in surfing, windsurfing, rock and ice climbing, and skiing. With all the hoopla going on these days about what is or isn’t extreme, a good suggestion might be to turn off the Mountian Dew commercials and go check IMAX EXTREME this spring and decide for yourself.